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Biological Chemistry

Editor-in-Chief: Brüne, Bernhard

Editorial Board Member: Buchner, Johannes / Ludwig, Stephan / Sies, Helmut / Turk, Boris / Wittinghofer, Alfred

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Role of histone modifications in defining chromatin structure and function

Kathy A. Gelato1 / Wolfgang Fischle2

1Laboratory of Chromatin Biochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Am Fassberg 11, D-37077 Göttingen, Germany

2Laboratory of Chromatin Biochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Am Fassberg 11, D-37077 Göttingen, Germany

Corresponding author

Citation Information: Biological Chemistry. Volume 389, Issue 4, Pages 353–363, ISSN (Online) 14374315, ISSN (Print) 14316730, DOI: 10.1515/BC.2008.048, March 2008

Publication History

Published Online:
2008-03-27

Abstract

Chromosomes in eukaryotic cell nuclei are not uniformly organized, but rather contain distinct chromatin elements, with each state having a defined biochemical structure and biological function. These are recognizable by their distinct architectures and molecular components, which can change in response to cellular stimuli or metabolic requirements. Chromatin elements are characterized by the fundamental histone and DNA components, as well as other associated non-histone proteins and factors. Post-translational modifications of histone proteins in particular often correlate with a specific chromatin structure and function. Patterns of histone modifications are implicated as having a role in directing the level of chromatin compaction, as well as playing roles in multiple functional pathways directing the readout of distinct regions of the genome. We review the properties of various chromatin elements and the apparent links of histone modifications with chromatin organization and functional output.

Keywords: chromatin function; chromatin structure; euchromatin; heterochromatin; post-translational modification; transcriptional regulation

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